INTERVIEW: Reuben Vincent (9th Wonder / Jamla)

Pic by Nuku Muingbeh

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Close”?

My latest single is called “Close”, which is produced by Grammy-nominated producer Eric G and was blessed with additional keys and instrumentation from Howard “Soul” Joyner. I wrote this song on my 19th Birthday: December 31, 2019. I wrote this song with the intention that I needed to reflect from what is internal in regards to me and what is happening around me. The reason it had to be both for me is because what you feel in yourself is a reflection of how the world is to you. So in order to be entirely honest with the world, I had to speak about both internal and external environments.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Several events inspired me to write this song, but overall it stems from how the governmental system has affected my people and how social media has been a gift and a curse to my generation and others. I’m just unwrapping the world around me and how I’ve been affected by it, confronting the mistakes I’ve made, and learning to grow from each experience.

The single comes off your new EP Boy Meets World – what’s the story behind the title?

I wanted to give a title in which people can relate to it from the jump, since there is always a moment in which a person gets hit with the gravity of how real the world is around them. So, Boy Meets World​ is the demonstration of finally realizing that force. I’m a 19 year old kid from Charlotte, NC, growing up I didn’t travel as much or see as much out of the world I lived in. And due to the beautiful art that is Hip-Hop, I was given the blessing to be able to travel in the last two years to several parts around domestically in the United States as well as internationally with my label mates, specifically Rapsody. Throughout the travels there were many moments and spaces in which I was able to reflect on everything I was seeing and that I had seen, both good and bad. Especially since these travels started mainly after I graduated high school, it was a moment in which I had to confront who I was and what is the purpose of my belonging in this world that I’ve been seeing more of. I realize that I have the potential to be a voice of the kids my age, and it’s a lot of us going through these same emotions and feelings during this time. So it’s my job to exhibit in a way true to me.

How was the recording and writing process?

The recording process and writing process for this project was an experiment on myself as I’ve been trying to expand on my abilities as an artist. The main way in which I did that was by not physically writing about half of these songs and instead challenge myself to do it entirely mental. Songs like “How It Feel”, “Here We Go Again” , and “Whatchu Say” were the songs where I allowed myself to allow my heart and initial thoughts just take over and that was left to do was just to press record. My new way of creating is to not overthink anything, do it all on feeling. It took patience, practice, and study of legends such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and Andre 3000 to understand how I want to create in my own way.

What was it like to work with Eric G and how did that relationship develop?

My favorite part about working with Eric G is knowing that he and I together are 100% from the field. There’s a certain chemistry we have in which our brains simultaneously work together effortlessly. We both aren’t afraid to try new things when it comes to pushing the envelope on our music. I met Eric G through being label mates at Jamla Records. Physically we at our label’s studio, BrightLady, and instantly we clicked. The night we met, we were just laughing, cracking jokes, and playing with auto tune as a joke. Later on in the same night we actually turned around to make a few great songs together. He and I talk every day, that is certainly my brother.

As someone who has done some collaboration in the past – do you tend to take a different approach when collaborating with someone else rather than your own?

When it comes to collaborating, I just come into the process as myself. I look at it like this, if someone wants to collaborate with you, they wanted to work with you for being you, so I don’t change anything. I remove my ego and walk in with only one intention — to make great music. That’s what it’s all about. I’ve done a lot of collaborations in the past year and I’m so excited for people to hear all of them.

What role does Charlotte play in your music?

Charlotte is my home, born and raised so it plays a big part in who I am today and in my music. Charlotte is a beautiful mixture of different cultures with people coming down from up north bringing culture and the southern culture that’s already embedded there. Charlotte is pretty big, I was raised on the East Side of Charlotte but moved to the South side of it a couple years back. The amazing part is, if one is from Charlotte, that individual knows even such a move like that is living entirely different. Though I am happy that my city is growing and becoming bigger, one thing I feel like we need to have a bigger talk about is how Charlotte has been getting heavily gentrified and many Black neighborhoods have been being pushed out to the outskirts. Our schools are segregated & a lot of people are not fighting for these issues. I love my city and want to be able to be someone that the kids can look at in the future as someone who is also just like them but also a leader, so in order to do so, I want to he component in bringing awareness on these things affecting my city.

Where did you find inspiration for lyrics?

I find inspiration from everywhere but most importantly from life itself. The things that go on around me, the things that go on with my homies, family, city & world. An everyday conversation or situation with anybody can spark inspiration in me to go talk about something. I also find inspiration in the legends that came before me. I see the originality and honesty in their music and want to deliver the same legacy from myself.

Any plans to hit the road?

With everything going around right now, probably not. I got the itch to perform so much though because before quarantine I was blessed to hit the road with my sister Rapsody for ​A Black Woman Created This Tour​ and I received so much love. So once everything is over I’m excited to tour again because that’s one of my favorite things about being an artist.

What else is happening next in Reuben Vincent’s world?

The world will certainly see more of me. More music, shows, videos, features, everything. I’m ready to put my foot on the gas all the way. I’m gearing up for later on this year to deliver my debut album. My story is just beginning so keep your eye out for me. I’m not letting up.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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